Bearing Witness: Joyce Carol Oates Studies — A call for contributors to the inaugural issue of a scholarly journal on one of the towering figures of American literature.
Marya: A Life - Back in Print
A Bloodsmoor Romance: back in print
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Text and Criticism
Boxing

Manuscripts

manuscript

These manuscript images have been selected for their general, rather than scholarly, interest. Which is not to say that there is nothing here for the scholar, but simply to point out that the selection was not systematic or pre-planned; rather, images were chosen mainly for their intrinsic visual interest, and for their ability to display some of JCO's work-habits in the early, note-taking stages of her novels.

A "typical" novel in the archive would consist of folders of notes, as well as up to three complete type-written drafts. The images here were almost exclusively taken from the notes.

  • All manuscript images are in pdf format. Images may not be reproduced without permission of Joyce Carol Oates.

American Appetites 01


Annotation by Joyce Carol Oates:
"Rejected ending of American Appetites."

Annotation by Randy Souther:
I found this page interesting for the very reason that JCO notes: it is a variant ending from the one that we know from the published novel.


American Appetites 02


RS:
Notes for Part 3 of the novel: individual characters and events. Much of it crossed out.


American Appetites 03


RS:
A short typed paragraph, with the written note "End?" next to it. This in fact became the novel's beginning, rather than its ending.


Bellefleur 01


RS:
The discovery of Vernon's book of poetry: "Query." Typed page with interesting written notes that seem to have little to do with the typed material: the time, date, weather, and fauna (seen outside JCO's window?). Several women's faces surrounding the character name "Rache," and the word AVENGER repeated several times. Very interesting.


Bellefleur 02


RS:
Trying out an early title: "Bellefleur: A Pastoral," with "an informal index of various motifs, events, people, themes." Among many interesting notes we find that Raphael started out as "Phineas."


Bellefleur 03


RS:
Continuation of the previous "index." Includes an early, and very different, sketch of "Duck," better known in the published book as "Nightshade."


Bellefleur 04


RS:
Early outline of parts 1 and 2 of the novel. Typed and heavily annotated.


Bellefleur 05


RS:
Hand-written table of contents with page numbers.


Bellefleur 06


RS:
Table of contents (continued).

Bellefleur 07


RS:
Notes on Mahalaleel and Gideon on University of Windsor memo paper.


Bellefleur 08


RS:
Early draft of opening paragraph. Typed. Note that it is in the first-person, spoken by Germaine.


Bellefleur 09


RS:
Notes on the night of Germaine's birth. (And did Dutton pay a $1 million advance on this book . . . ?)


Bellefleur 10


RS:
Another early attempt at the opening paragraph. Hand written. Clearly earlier than "Bellefleur 08."


Bellefleur 11


RS:
Top half of page is part of a typed manuscript. Bottom half is a sketched meditation on the words "Bellefleur" and "Blood."


Bellefleur 12


RS:
Typed notes for Book II. Heavily annotated by hand.


Bellefleur 13


RS:
Notes for Book III. Heavily annotated.


Bellefleur 14


RS:
Another version of the opening. Now in the third-person, and getting close to the published version.


Bellefleur 15


RS:
Notes on the chapter "The Elopement."


Bellefleur 16


RS:
Notes on Matilde. "Mad baroque quilt(s). Paradigm of novel."


Bellefleur 17


RS:
Notes for chapters on the Varrells, the Indian boy Charles Xavier, and Jedediah. And a particularly dense quilt of sketched names and faces.


Bellefleur 18


RS:
An entire page of sketching and doodling. Of purely visual interest.


Bellefleur 19


RS:
Fascinating synopsis of the novel via the characters. "Episodic, loosely structured, anecdotal: something I have never tried before. A series of tales centered about the Bellefleur rise and fall. But of course really a vast metaphor (as lavish as I can invent) for Germaine's childhood, the imagination of childhood . . . the imagination itself."


Bellefleur 20


JCO:
"(rejected fictitious author's note to BELLEFLEUR) None of the statements on the page is true! I only vaguely recall writing it. I see that I'd even drawn my parents (my father's name is misspelled with a 'k') into it. I don't want anyone to think that any of this is true."


A Bloodsmoor Romance


RS:
Notes on John Quincy Zinn and Prudence Kiddemaster.


Broke Heart Blues 01


RS:
If you're having difficulty keeping all the characters straight in Broke Heart Blues, here's a handy chart to aid you.


Broke Heart Blues 02


RS:
Character chart continued.


The Accursed 01


RS:
A scary scene, complete, in its way, on two sides of an envelope, side 1. 


The Accursed 02


RS:
Scary scene on evelope, side 2.


The Accursed 03


RS:
Lists of flowers and herbs for possible use in the novel.


The Accursed 04


RS:
Lists of furnishings for possible use in the novel.


The Accursed 05


RS:
Dramatis Personae.


The Accursed 06


RS:
Dramatis Personae (continued).


Foxfire 01


RS:
Rejected openings?


Foxfire 02


RS:
Top of page seems to be from Because It Is Bitter And Because It Is My Heart. Bottom of page is from Foxfire.
"Not long ago I saw an old movie of Marilyn Monroe's from the Fifties, the sudden perception came to me that there was a person trapped inside the jiggly overripe slightly comical flesh . . ." (A hint of novels to come.)


Foxfire 03


RS:
Hand written notes in two columns: Legs in Red Bank. On top of type written notes running in opposite direction: tattoos.


I Lock My Door Upon Myself 01


RS:
The evolution of the title, of Cala's name, and of her color scheme.


I Lock My Door Upon Myself 02


RS:
A column of hand written notes and a column of doodles, written on a working page for the play Tone Clusters.


I Lock My Door Upon Myself 03


RS:
Type written page, heavily annotated.


My Heart Laid Bare 01


RS:
A plan for part 1 of the novel, at this point titled "My Heart Laid Bare: A Chronicle of the Infamous Lichts of Old Muirkirk." Typed and heavily annotated in multiple colored pens. Included in the margin are sketches of women's faces and repeated names of characters and places; both elements appear in many manuscript pages, with the repeated names often taking the form of variations on JCO's own name.


My Heart Laid Bare 02


RS:
The rules of The Game. "Past?—it is but the graveyard of the Future."


Mysteries of Winterthurn 01


RS:
"How, how to organize this welter of material!"


Mysteries of Winterthurn 02


RS:
Early versions of the "Author's Note" to the first mystery.


Mysteries of Winterthurn 03


RS:
Hand-drawn map of Winterthurn City. Likely hung over JCO's desk during composition of the novel.


Mysteries of Winterthurn 04


RS:
Table of contents to The Bloodstained Bridal Gown, appropriately written in blood (or perhaps red ink).


Mysteries of Winterthurn 05


RS:
"Angels may turn demons ..." Working out an important theme of the novel.


Mysteries of Winterthurn 06


RS:
Early musings: "Mysteries of Winterthur"; "Sherlock Holmes"; "My spiritual autobiography"


Mysteries of Winterthurn 07


RS:
Crossed-out notes on the first mystery, and Simon Esdras. Doodled faces.


Mysteries of Winterthurn 08


RS:
Kilgarvan family tree, and important characters.


Mysteries of Winterthurn 09


RS:
Creating Georgina's poetry.


Mysteries of Winterthurn 10


RS:
"Clues" to the final mystery.


Mysteries of Winterthurn 11


RS:
Lists of potential names, both character and place. Mysteries of Solebury County?


Mysteries of Winterthurn 12


RS:
Outlining the second mystery.


What I Lived For 01


RS:
Map of Union City.

   

What I Lived For 02


RS:
Notes on Corky at Mass.


What I Lived For 03


RS:
Hand written list / outline of novel's "Events." 


You Must Remember This 01


RS:
Map of Port Oriskany.

   

You Must Remember This 02


RS:
Outline of part 2.


You Must Remember This 03


RS:
Notes on boxing, Felix, and Joe Louis.


You Must Remember This 04


RS:
Notes on Lyle Stevick.

 

Zombie 01


RS:
"A Plan for Zombie"


Zombie 02


RS:
A checklist of possible scenes.


Zombie 03


RS:
"Is time outside me?" Drawing of clock with no hands.


Zombie 04


RS:
Quentin purchases his first ice pick.